The African philosophy, "It takes a village to raise a child" explains the critical role parents, teachers, volunteers, donors, community members, and YLA members play in helping achieve our mission. There is not another program in Racine like the YLA. We are a member program with the goal of changing the attitudes of youth toward and empowering them to achieve success in school and life.

Members embark on the three components of the Young Leaders Academy between a two to six-year period, depending on when they start the program.




With financial and program support through Racine County Human Services, this new intervention/gang diversion program connects low income juvenile offenders (middle and high school students) identified by the Racine courts as high risk for repeat offenses, to teachers/mentors (Credible Messengers) who have had and overcome similarly challenging life experiences. Through gang-aversion mentoring and instruction to broaden personal and educational horizons, students will learn to seek positive life outcomes, reducing recidivism. Family Engagement Specialists will meet weekly with parents to identify and address family needs and concerns. Credible Messenger goals:

  • Demonstrated understanding of how personal actions affect self and others
  • Improved sense of self-worth
  • Improved sense of hope/aspiration



In August, after the Racine Unified School District announced its virtual first quarter, the Y mobilized to assist working parents by providing a safe, clean, structured learning environment for school age children during the school day. National studies about virtual learning conducted this past spring indicated that having a facilitator or mentor on hand greatly improved children’s focus and performance in virtual classes. This approach is known as “blended learning,” which precisely aligns with the academic support and leadership training curricula of the YLA program.

The Y’s Virtual Learning Centers opened free of charge to students living in the neighborhoods surrounding the George Bray Neighborhood Y Branch (924 Center Street) in Racine, The academic support during and after school for the YLA students and others attending the Virtual Learning Centers is provided by the Y’s Young Leaders Academy staff. YLA staff provide academic support instruction and technological support to ensure that each child is able to login, participate and succeed. All current COVID-19 safety and cleanliness guidelines are followed at each site.

The Virtual Learning Centers provide full day care for children in Grades Kindergarten through 12. All participating students receive a free, healthy breakfast and lunch each day. The School Achiever component for Grades 2-5 takes place between RUSD’s virtual learning sessions. Parents may choose to pick up their child in Grades K-5 at 3:00pm at the end of the virtual school day, or have them stay for the entire day (5:30 p.m.). Children who stay may receive homework support from YLA staff or participate in art class, nature walks or other projects.